Sugar cookies are a lot of fun to make. Sure, they seem like a lot of work, but once you are in the swing of things and you know how you might like to ice them, they become a most satisfying challenge. I had so many ideas for a theme for these. We were asked by Mandy to decorate them according to something that was happening to us this month. Where was I to begin?
How about another little homage to E, off on her big adventure in France. I debated some iced farmyard animals all dressed up in their various colours and little cookies underneath giving the names of 'les animaux francais'. Too time consuming.
Well what about a calendar for the month? We had plenty of appointments and I could ice some little squares - some with the dates on when we weren't doing anything, and others with little drawings of our daily doings: a tooth for the dentist, a little car for long distance trips and a little candled cupcake for family birthdays. Who was I kidding? Not only did I not have the time, I didn't have enough piping bags and I wasn't going to go and fill the kitchen draw with them!
In the end I settled on something for A, who has been doing some work experience this month backstage at a theatre. She would like to be a seamstress when she's old enough and has been enjoying the costume changes and sewing people into their costumes. I imagine it as an upmarket version of 'the Hills'. Sorry Lauren.
I spent a happy hour online at a cookie cutter website and ordered a few. Just a few, I swear. A dress and a mask caught my eye and almost before the postman could hand their parcel over at the door, I was in the kitchen, making some dough and pressing my new toys into it.
Basic Sugar Cookies:
Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies
200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming
creamy in texture.
• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.
• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.
• Leave to cool on cooling racks.
• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, optional
• Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
• Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites.
• Beat on low until combined and smooth.
• Use immediately or keep in an airtight container.